Come on, let me in!

Sometimes—usually after receiving a rejection letter—I think about writing for the market. The problem is, the novel trend today is not necessarily what will be hot next publishing season. No, make that at least two seasons from the time you polish up your manuscript.

So I want to know: how are all these other writers clued in? I understand the YA (young adult) craze—it started after J. K. Rowling’s success, but how is it so many writers typed out vampire books at the same time? And now it seems they all knew to write Amish novels.

Do agents get together, decide the next trend, and then spread the word to their clients? Or is it the writers themselves who’ve banded together? Do they have a secret handshake, telling blog icon, Facebook status code word, exclusive Twitter hashtag?

Come on, let me in on it. Please. Pretty please. I, too, want to make an agent see dollar signs when s/he reads my query letter.

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39 thoughts on “Come on, let me in!

  1. This is a question I ask myself so often! I feel that there is usually one single writer who makes the trend blow up (Harry Potter, as you mentioned, Twilight), and then many writers follow with their very hastily written manuscripts. That seems to be the pattern to me, but then, I really have no idea. It’s a good question, so if you ever find the answer, let me know!

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    1. Hannah, thank you for stopping in and leaving a comment.

      Yes, as Ann also suggested, I think speedy writing is probably the answer. That’s not something I do, so I guess there’s no shortcut for me. 🙂

      Thanks for the Twitter follow.

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  2. I don’t know the answer. I do know that a friend of mine recently wrote her first book and had it published. She’s currently on a “book tour” on the Pacific NW, where she resides. The book is lovely. It’s a fiction piece with some autobiographical touches thrown in. She found a local publisher right here in Portland, OR and also completed her MA or MFA in writing. So- she’s proof to me that it CAN be done.
    I think if we write passionately for ourselves first and foremost that others will find our work and love it too.

    Thanks also for the Twitter follow.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, SAM.

      I do write for myself, from my heart, and not to trends, but sometimes I get impatient and envious and wonder how I might find a shortcut to publication. If I suspect if I ever do write a trendy book, if will be completely by accident.

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  3. A great question! I answered on my blog, which helped me narrow the answer down to one line.

    To become a part of a publishing trend, we need luck, intuition, and studious perseverance.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughtful response to my question, Ann. I’ve responded here and on your blog.

      You said: “The interests of a genre’s readers will shift in roughly the same directions, guided by what does and doesn’t work in the season’s published stories.”

      This is what I don’t understand. I do understand how a trend or event in society can inspire similar works in numerous writers, but I don’t understand how numerous writers simultaneously have the same idea for a new angle just from reading.

      However, you bring up the idea of speedy writing, which I’ve observed with a particular friend who writes YA fantasy. It seems to me that if you’re a true genre writer, you have a sort of formula you follow, which makes it easier to finish a book in time to cash in on the latest trend.

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      1. Except that the time from acceptance to shelf is 2-3 years, so writing a book in a hurry is not going to help you get in on the latest trend. Agents are buying books now for the NEXT trend. They’re looking for the “shiny new idea” that will sell when everyone is sick of telepathic vampire kittens.

        Think about it. There are how many million writers out there? It only takes one book to be great, and suddenly agents are crying out for more vampire/zombie/whatever books. It’s the ones that are already written that will be in on the early stages of the trend.

        Most of the time, you just have to be lucky to have a book that fits the market. And for your best shot at that, you just need to write a lot of books.

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        1. Is it that long, Merrilee? I thought about half that. Geeze. Yes, I suspected that the early trend followers already had their books written and ready to go.

          I don’t plan to write for the market, in any case. If I can’t write what appeals to me, it’s not worth it because I can’t imagine the result would be any good.

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  4. Ah, the sweet mystery of — in my humble opinion — not just publishing but life! I’ve been screaming and trying to find perceived doors to bang on for years. I don’t know the answer, Linda — if I did, I would surely share it with as many as I could (unless of course there’s a vow or oath I have to take as part of the elite club NOT to share) — but the keyboard and the Inbox seem to be the starting points always.

    Keep at it! You can crack the code! I know it. 🙂

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  5. I think so much has to do with danged ole dang Luck and timing -! I just write who I am and let the books fall where they may. My books aren’t on any bestseller lists (well, except for a time on Kindle books the first one was in the top five for a few weeks), but they are what I like to write, and like to read.

    That said, – twould be nice to be the book equiv of going viral – or, is it “be careful what you wish for…” Even SM is sick of vampires and wants to write something else, but her hands are tied, at least for now . . . we could say “I’d like to be in her shoes” – but if you want to WRITE and WRITE, and you are tired of writing what someone else wants you to write, this i sa sticky thing.

    Enough o’ my babblin’

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Kat. And congrats on your publishing success.

      Yes, for me, being stuck writing the same thing over and over would pretty much strangle my muse, but there are lots of writers who’ve kept a series going for a long time.

      Feel free to come here and babble anytime. 🙂

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  6. Here’s my solution: Write a whole bunch of novels based on various genres, theme, setting, and character. Recycle old trends. They eventually come back around. Anne Rice and Vampires anyone? Only edit the first three chapters. When you notice that the trend is leaning particulary close to one of your drafts, quickly query it. If you get a bite put on the coffee and edit like a bat out of …..

    Just a thought.

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      1. Heck no! I wish I could say that I had several finished drafts in the pipeline, but in reality I have one draft in rewrite and one living out its required cooling period of a year. I’m one of those people that need distance before I can look at my draft with unloving eyes. I wonder, though, if a seasoned writer that has already written a few of those man-I’ve-got-to-write-this-and-get-out-of-my-head books, if the writing becomes a little more planned and less spontaneous.

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        1. That would be nice if it got easier, Trista. I do think some aspects will take less thought the more you write, but I think (and I could be wrong) some series authors have a formula, so it’s almost like just changing names, locales, and a bit of circumstances and they have a new novel. I never want to be one of those and I’m sure you don’t want to either … unless those books are written under a pseudonym just to pay the bills. 😀

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  7. Linda, I’m with you. I’ve always written what I’ve written because of where I was in life, and never because of what was selling at the time. As we all know, it simply doesn’t work that way. I think that’s what I love so much about women’s fiction–the trends are universal AND timeless–issues of love and loss, family and self.

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    1. Erika, how do you define women’s fiction? It seems the definition is rather fluid. Depending on the agent’s interests, I describe my novel as either literary women’s fiction or just women’s fiction in my query letter, but I’m still not sure.

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      1. Linda, you raise a good distinction between lit. women’s fiction and women’s fiction. Honestly, I don’t know if I could determine the difference. When people ask what my genre my book is, I define it as women’s fiction because even though the relationships between the characters are ultimately what drives the story forward, it has a mystery subplot and other elements that I think keep it from being a strict romance–does that make any sense?

        The internet catalogs are of little help on this. Amazon lists a Vonnegut novel on the same women’s fiction list as Amy Tan, Barbara Kingsolver and Jodi Picoult, so maybe the definition is even more fluid than we thought!

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        1. Yes, I’ve also seen some surprising authors on lists of women’s fiction writers. The novel I just finished has romance, but it’s not a romance novel. And I resisted the wf tag because to me it meant chick lit, but then I saw Anne Tyler and Sheri Reynolds listed as wf. They are two of my favorite authors, and I wouldn’t mind being in their company. 🙂

          Btw, I’m looking forward to reading your novel.

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  8. Haha Linda I ask that to myself ALL the time and looking for secret clues and signs all over the blogosphere & tweeter! No, just kidding but I do wonder who sets the trends; agents, writers or the readers?

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  9. Linda, very sorry to see you are feeling down a bit overall. On the trend question – maybe this is a theory that I was dreaming up on a long dark night (as I have no recollection from where) but I heard that books that are in the slush piles or on hold with publishers are getting more attention as soon as a genre hits it off. That’s why they are out so quickly. They have been there but nobody had the courage/belief to publish because the genre was deemed “dead” until then.
    Hope this sounds as plausible to you as it does to me. And keep up the faith.

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    1. Thank you, Eva. I’m on the mend. 🙂

      Hmmm, I wonder how that will work in the future since fewer and fewer publishers allow unsolicited submissions nowadays? And do agents keep submissions after they reject them? Surely not, so I guess it would be better to have your partial or full waiting in an agent’s slush pile for a long time, just in case the trends change in your favor. In any case, I don’t think I could write to a trend anyway, unless it happened to be one I was already interested in.

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      1. Am sure that your way is the right and only way to go.

        Just have been rejected for my manuscript that is too hard to market (in spite getting good feedback on writing itself). Still I am convinced that I can only write well if I am there with my whole heart. Trends come and go, they might just stop by at your big topic one day… All the best.

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  10. I don’t understand how they work out trends but all I know is that I am writing something I MUST write and it’s important to me whether or not it’s part of trend or all that, and if it wasn’t a trend, would I stop writing it? NO, because I didn’t start writing to become famous or even make money (though money would be nice)

    Personally, I don’t think it’s possible to try to write to follow a trend, you have to write about what interest YOU – If for example, Science Fiction novels suddenly became the rage, does that mean I’d attempt to write one? No, because I’d not be any good at it.

    As the cliche goes: Write what you know…

    I do hope you get someone soon though, I’m sure it’s very disheartening, I haven’t even started myself yet so I still have to go through all that one day 😦

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    1. Seriously, Alannah, unless it was something I was already planning to write, I could never write to a trend either. At least, not write well because I wouldn’t enjoy it.

      And thank you for the good thought. Sooner or later. I’ll keep writing anyway.

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  11. I want in too!!

    I guess if we had an answer to this problem we’d all be on the best sellers list. Then again, I don’t think I have the energy to write about vampires so maybe not. 🙂

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    1. Welcome to my blog and thank you for leaving a comment. Come back and join the conversation often. 🙂 Good luck on your writing and your blogging.

      Your name doesn’t link to your blog yet. You can leave a link if you want us to visit.

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